Top 5 Foods To Aid Muscular Recovery
Professional footballers rely on a host of top chefs to ensure they are eating right after 90 minutes, and while we can’t cook for you, we can point you in the right direction when it comes to post-match nutrition. Protein, carbohydrates and vitamins are top of the list for players keen to replenish energy levels, repair muscle tissue and ensure an efficient recovery.
Best consumed around an hour after your game, we’ve teamed up with football performance consultant Chris Barnes to list five foods which should be going straight on your plate and why they are so popular among the best players in the world.
Poached eggs on whole grain toast
When it comes to post-match nutrition, it’s best to keep things simple. Eggs are considered to be the most readily utilisable protein with the highest biological value of all whole foods, while whole grain toast is a fine source of carbohydrates, fibre and trace minerals such as iron.
“Digestion of the food itself can become energy consuming,” explains Chris. “Try not to mix different kinds of high protein foods such as meat, cheese, meat and eggs. A great option is poached eggs on whole grain toast – a firm favourite of many professionals.”
Grilled chicken or fish
Head into any professional football club’s canteen and you’ll be met with an array of lean protein dishes. The likes of fish and protein have been a staple food in football for decades and with advantages such as repairing muscle tissue, helping you feel full for longer and weight loss, it’s easy to see why they are so popular.
“The demands of competitive football naturally causes small amounts of breakdown in muscle tissue,” says Chris. “To help to rebuild this tissue quickly and effectively your post-match meal should contain some lean protein, 300g-400g of chicken or fish are ideal.”
Nuts with dried fruit
It may sound nuts, but your almonds, pecans and cashews mixed with dried fruit are a great source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. Easy to slip into a meal or as a quick post-match snack on the go, you’ll get a healthy dose of protein from your nuts in addition to a quick injection of simple carbohydrates from your dried fruits.
“During periods of intense activity it is normal to feel hungry between meals,” says Chris Barnes. “To counter this hunger, and ensure you are consuming healthy and appropriate food stuffs, try to have fruit and nuts yoghurts rather than chocolate, crisps or cakes.”
Rich in nutrients such as calcium and iron, spinach has been proven to speed up the body’s conversion of protein to muscle mass. While the benefits of eating spinach after exercise are clear, research also suggests that it can improve the efficiency of your muscles during a workout – Popeye might have been onto something all this time after all!
“A by-product of hard exercise is the production of ‘free-radicals’,” adds Chris. “These chemicals negatively impact on energy production and recovery processes. One method of countering these effects is to consume foods high in vitamin A,C and E after exercise such as fruits, nuts and vegetables like spinach.”
Substituting meat from time to time in your meals is a healthy option, while vegetarians will already be familiar with this source of protein, iron and vitamins. The chickpeas in hummus is packed full of protein in addition to carbohydrates, and is an excellent option if you need a swift bite after your game.
“Vegetarian players should replace meat with a diet rich in legumes like chickpeas and soy beans,” explains Chris. “This will ensure adequate levels of protein and iron are consumed to support athletic performance.”
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